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Abstract

Following an adventitious oil flow into a coal mine in 1847 in the Riddings area of the county of Derbyshire in the English Midlands, the young Scottish chemist James Young carried out seminal work into the development of oil refining technology. In Derbyshire, by the end of 1848, he set up an early refinery to exploit this oil commercially by distillation, producing both lighting and lubrication fractions which he sold directly to end customers. His findings in Derbyshire led him to move on to investigate production and refining of oil from coal by destructive distillation, technology for which he gained his global reputation; Young’s patented technology was adopted by the commercial refineries that were to follow in many countries as the world’s oil fields sprang to life.

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